And on the Third Day, Protesters Visited the Comcast Tower
Ten protesters received $50 citations from Philadelphia Police after they flex-cuffed themselves to a railing in the lobby of the Comcast Center on Wednesday afternoon, according to Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
The demonstrators “couldn’t have been more peaceful,” Ross said. They were removed from the lobby, given their citations and sent on their way, in keeping with the city’s desire to get through the Democratic National Convention without having to arrest any of the thousands of people who have taken to the streets to protest a variety of causes — the convention itself, Hillary Clinton, police violence, environmental issues, etc.
Prior to the Comcast incident, police pegged the total number of citations that they’ve issued at 59. Five demonstrators were arrested by the Secret Service around 8:30 Tuesday night after they tried to scale a perimeter fence near Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. They were charged with entering a restricted area and transported to the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center.
Ross said federal officials are “open” to the idea of allowing the charges to be processed on a state level; the protesters apparently didn’t realize that hopping the fence was a federal crime. (As Jeffrey Lebowski might say: “Yeah, well, y’know, that’s just like your opinion, man.”)
The city saw eight different demonstrations on Tuesday, attracting more than 5,000 protesters. The figures have been well below pre-convention estimates that suggested 35,000 to 50,000 protesters might march every day. Ross said the city knew they’d see a “significant push” from protesters on Tuesday, which was expected to be the busiest of the convention for demonstrators. He said it’s unclear how many will take to the streets on Wednesday and Thursday.
It also remains to be seen how protesters will react to news that criminal charges have been dropped against three Baltimore police officers who were involved in the Freddie Gray case. Gray, 25, suffered spinal cord injuries while in police custody in 2015. His eventual death led to criminal charges being filed against six Baltimore cops; three have already been acquitted.
Ross said he hoped the protests here will remain nonviolent. Police are continuing to stick to their regular uniforms as they follow marchers through the city. “If you’re looking like you’re prepared for a fight, that’s what you get,” he said, when asked why officers aren’t wearing tactical gear. City officials promised demonstrators that they would not switch to riot gear for the convention, he said.
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